This is how we’ve been entertaining ourselves in isolation during our customary southern summer heatwave: we stalk the wildlife around our house, and on the weekends we go to the parks in search of more of that nature thing.
We come by our new hobby honestly. My father was a professional photographer, and Bob has a long history of exercising his photographer’s eye.
I was getting a bale of wheat straw out of our storage shed when I came across a two-foot snake. Of course, I ran for Bob, afraid that I’d found a copperhead. He obligingly dropped what he was working on and came outside to assure me it was only a young black snake digesting lunch.
I tried not to imagine the animal inside the snake but quickly lost that battle.
It reminded me of the snake drawings in The Little Prince. If you haven’t read the book, this is a picture of a boa constrictor that has eaten an elephant. My Nana gave me a copy of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s masterpiece when I was about ten years old. This little boy, the prince, went on an adventure and met a great array of individuals. Every chapter held a lesson and I read the book religiously well into my teens. I was especially fond of the little prince’s encounter with the fox. Here is their farewell:
“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
The red rocket dianthus in our kitchen garden is a moth magnet. These are a Snowberry Clearwing and a White-lined Sphinx.
One of our favorite subjects: a bullfrog. As soon as they hear the front door open, they dive into the pond, so we shoot them through the window.
Yin yang frogs on a lily pad, so cute!
A white-headed House finch sits with its more colorful partner after bathing in the birdbath. We can only figure that this bird was born without pigment.
Hungry Mockingbird nestlings in the Asian pear tree.
A box turtle munching on lunch in the shade of a garden tote.
A cottontail looking inside from outside our front fence.
We went to Chatham Beverage District so Bob could pick up Fair Game’s mail and spooked a rabbit. It’s cool how their eyes are engineered to see behind them as they run. It only takes one look from us with our close-set predator eyes to make a prey animal jump and run.
I love the blue herons with their yellow eyes and pragmatic stateliness.
But I have to admit that I am also captivated by the sheer improbable ungainliness of the vultures.
There have been precious few butterflies this year. Here is a Red Admiral on some thistle at Jordan Lake
I love how the bee is carrying its legs in a little twist, probably because it has just changed directions. Bees usually seem purposeful in flight, and it hadn’t occurred to me that they need to make adjustments to avoid running into butterflies. Only, this bee seems to be turning towards the admiral.
A pollen-laden bee on echinacea at Debbie Roos’s pollinator garden up at the Jordan Lake Dam visitor center.
A bluebird sits on a piece of big art in the North Carolina Museum of Art Park.
A female Ruby-throated hummingbird works a red canna bloom.
Finally, a squirrel sits atop our Bradford pear stump eating something that isn’t one of our orchard pears. Punks.
Nature isn’t for everyone. When we first moved to Oahu in 1999, I landed the receptionist job at a pharmaceutical company. Bob and I knew not one soul on the island, so I clung to the conversations with my new co-workers. Every Monday morning, one sweet lady would kindly ask me how my weekend had been and I’d tell her about our hikes and wildlife encounters. I was so excited to have someone to talk to that I ignored her puzzled looks. After several weeks of this little dance, she rocked back on her stilettos and smiled. “Ahhh, you’re into that nature thing!” She had figured me out.